The Critical Edge of Curating

Maurizio Cattelan, Novecento, 1997. Taxidermied horse, leather saddle, rope, and pulley, 201.2 x 271.3 x 68.6 cm. © Maurizio Cattelan. Photo: Paolo Pellion di Persano, courtesy the artist

Co-organized by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, and curator of Maurizio Cattelan: All, and Kate Fowle, Executive Director, Independent Curators International (ICI).

Curators from around the world discuss critical issues in their practice today, examining the possible impact of exhibitions and related curatorial activities on cultural and social change. Key questions will be addressed as points of departure for a broader theoretical and practical analysis of the field, through conversation amongst colleagues from various institutions and alternative spaces, as well as those working independently.

Speakers include: Ute Meta Bauer (MIT); Shelley Bernstein (Brooklyn Museum); Suzanne Cotter (Abu Dhabi Project, Guggenheim Museum); Tom Finkelpearl (Queens Museum of Art); Eungie Joo (New Museum); Weng Choy Lee (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); Chus Martinez (dOCUMENTA [13]); Rodrigo Moura (Inhotim); Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Gallery); Yasmil Raymond (Dia Art Foundation); Ralph Rugoff (Hayward Gallery); Nato Thompson (Creative Time); Christine Tohme (Ashkal Awan); and Anton Vidokle (e-flux).

Discussion topics include:

No End in Sight

For many curators and artists working today, the exhibition no longer serves as the culminating manifestation of their work. For some, it is merely one step along a trajectory of research and planning. For others it has become an entirely dispensable model. This discussion will focus on alternative modes of curatorial activity and the expanded notion of what constitutes an exhibition.
Speakers: Ute Meta Bauer, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Anton Vidokle

Authorship and Agency
As the relationship between artist and curator increasingly blurs, the notion of authorship comes to the fore. This discussion will address the question of curatorial agency in an expanded field of production, by looking at the shifting distinctions between facilitation and the creative process. It will also examine the role of the audience in determining content for a time newly dominated by social media.
Speakers: Shelley Bernstein, Chus Martinez, Ralph Rugoff

In a world of global cultural flows, does the art-historical notion of site-specificity (as it developed in the post-Minimalist practices of the 1960s and ‘70s) still resonate, or is it now just a nostalgic attachment to place? This discussion will focus on different modes of “specificity” in use today, including art created in relation to social and political contexts, as well as art adapted to museum architecture, and art situated in an expanded public realm.
Speakers: Tom Eccles, Eungie Joo, Rodrigo Moura

Curating as Activism; the Social Responsibility of the Museum
The intersection of global cultural activity (including the building of new museums and emerging biennial models) with the political realities encountered around the world today, raises issues of social responsibility. This discussion will ask whether curatorial practice can have meaningful social or political impact, as well as what the responsibility of the curator and the museum should be to address and/or ameliorate injustice. It will also examine whether art itself can be a transformative force.
Speakers: Tom Finkelpearl, Christine Tohme, Nato Thompson

Transnational Currents
With the recent emergence of transnationality as an intellectual framework to rethink the concept of globalization and regional-specific studies, the question arises in both the academy and museum, whether the term applies to actual art production or whether it is merely a discursive model for interpretation. This discussion will ask what it means to curate a transnational exhibition in a world of shifting geo-political, cultural, and social realities.
Speakers: Suzanne Cotter, Weng Choy Lee, Yasmil Raymond

The program is followed by a reception that includes a viewing of Maurizio Cattelan: All.

November 4, 2011

Peter B. Lewis Theater
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue (at 88th Street)
New York, NY 10128

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Ute Meta Bauer

Ute Meta Bauer is Founding Director of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) in Singapore. Bauer is also Professor of Art at NTU’s School of Art, Media, and Design. She was previously Associate Professor and the Director of the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, where she had served as Director of the MIT Visual Arts Program from 2005-09. From 1996-2006, Bauer held an appointment at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna as a professor of theory and practice of contemporary art. Educated as an artist for more than two decades Bauer has worked as a curator of exhibitions and presentations on contemporary art, film, video, and sound, with a focus on transdisciplinary formats. She was a co-curator of Documenta 11 (2001/2002) in the team of Okwui Enwezor, has been the artistic director of the 3rd Berlin Biennial (2004) and in 2005 curated the Mobile_Transborder Archive for InSite05, Tijuana /San Diego.

Shelley Bernstein

Shelley Bernstein is the Chief of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum. Since 2005, she has been working to further the Museum’s community-oriented mission through projects including free public wireless access, and putting the Museum collection online. As the initiator and community manager of the Museum’s initiatives on the social web, she co-created 1stfans: a socially networked museum and organized Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition. In 2010, Bernstein was named one of the “40 Under 40” in Crain’s New York Business, and she’s been featured in the New York Times for her effort to increase the Brooklyn Museum’s online presence and its engagement with visitors through social media.

Suzanne Cotter

Suzanne Cotter Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project. A leading scholar on international contemporary art, she has organized monographic and thematic exhibitions on artists such as Monica Bonvicini, Angela Bulloch, Daniel Buren, Cecily Brown, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Trisha Donnelly, Jannis Kounellis, Mike Nelson, Silke Otto-Knapp, Fiona Tan, and Kelley Walker. She also curated Out of Beirut (2006), and co-curated Transmission Interrupted (2009) and the Sharjah Biennial (2011). Cotter has also contributed to art publications including Frieze, Parkett and Artforum. In 2005, she received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

Tom Finkelpearl

Tom Finkelpearl is the Executive Director of the Queens Museum of Art. He’s worked as a curator and program manager at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, Director of the Percent for Art Program at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and Executive Director of Program at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His Dialogues in Public Art (2000) is a collection of artist interviews, contemplating the issues of community outreach and public engagement in art outside the walls of a museum. He is currently working on a book entitled The Art of Social Cooperation.

Eungie Joo

Eungie Joo is Director of Art and Cultural Programs at Instituto Inhotim in Brazil. Formerly, Joo was Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs at the New Museum in New York (2007-12), where she spearheaded the Museum as Hub initiative. Before joining the New Museum, Joo was the founding director and curator of the Gallery at REDCAT in Los Angeles (2003–7). She was the Commissioner for the Korean Pavilion at the 53rd International Venice Biennale in 2009, and organized the 2012 New Museum Triennial. Joo was a recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement in 2006.

Kate Fowle

Kate Fowle is Director of MoMA PS1 in New York. From 2013-2019 she was the inaugural Chief Curator at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and director-at-large at Independent Curators International (ICI) in New York, where she was the Executive Director from 2009-13. Prior to this she was the international curator at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing (2007-08). In 2002 she co-founded the Master’s Program in Curatorial Practice for California College of the Arts in San Francisco, for which she was the Chair until 2007. Before moving to the United States, Fowle was co-director of Smith + Fowle in London from 1996-2002. From 1994-96 she was curator at the Towner Art Gallery and Museum in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Weng Choy Lee

Weng Choy Lee lives and works in Singapore. He is an art critic and president of the Singapore Section of the International Association of Art Critics. Formerly the artistic co-director of The Substation arts center, Lee is now director of projects, research, and publications at the Osage Art Foundation. He has lectured on art and cultural studies, convened international conferences, and written widely on contemporary art, and is a consultant lecturer at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Singapore.

Chus Martínez

Born in Spain, Chus Martínez has a background in philosophy and art history. Currently she is the Head of the Institute of Art of the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, Switzerland. Before she was the Chief Curator at El Museo del Barrio, New York, and dOCUMENTA (13) Head of Department and Member of Core Agent Group. Previously she was Chief Curator at MACBA, Barcelona (2008–11), Director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein (2005–08), and Artistic Director of Sala Rekalde, Bilbao (2002–05). For the 51st Biennale di Venezia (2005), Martínez curated the National Pavilion of Cyprus, and in 2008 she served as a Curatorial Advisor for the Carnegie International and in 2010 for the 29th Bienal de São Paulo. During her tenure as Director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein she curated solo exhibitions of Wilhelm Sasnal among others; and a series of group exhibitions including Pensée Sauvage and The Great Game To Come. She was also the founder of the Deutsche Börse Residency Program for international artists, art writers, and curators.

While at MACBA Martínez curated the Thomas Bayrle retrospective, an Otolith Group monographic show, and an exhibition devoted to television, Are you ready for TV? In 2008, Martínez was the curator of the Deimantas Narkevicius retrospective exhibition, The Unanimous Life, at the Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, which traveled to major European museums. Martínez lectures and writes regularly including numerous catalogue texts and critical essays, and is a regular contributor to Artforum among other international art journals.

Rodrigo Moura

Rodrigo Moura is a curator, editor and art writer. He was Curator at Inhotim (Minas Gerais, Brazil) from 2004, and currently holds the position of Deputy Director of Art and Cultural Programs. He played an important role in the acquisition of works by artists such as Artur Barrio, Ernesto Neto, Iran do Espírito Santo, Jorge Macchi, Marepe and Victor Grippo, among others. In the collection development of Inhotim, he has prioritized the acquisition of works by younger artists, such as Alexandre da Cunha, Allora & Calzadilla, Laura Lima and Marcellvs L. He was formerly Assistant Curator (2001-2003) and Curator (2004-2006) at Museu de Arte da Pampulha, in Belo Horizonte, where he organized solo shows by Damián Ortega, Ernesto Neto, Renata Lucas, José Bento and Fernanda Gomes, among more than 20 solo, site-specific and commissioned exhibitions. He has extensively written on arts and culture for Brazilian newspapers and international art press.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist (b. 1968, Zürich, Switzerland) is Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, and Senior Artistic Advisor of The Shed in New York. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Since his first show ‘World Soup (The Kitchen Show)’ in 1991, he has curated more than 300 exhibitions.

Obrist has lectured internationally at academic and art institutions, and is a contributing editor to the magazines Artforum, AnOther Magazine, 032C, a regular contributor to Mousse and Kaleidoscope and he writes columns for Das Magazin and Weltkunst. In 2011 he received the CCS Bard Award for Curatorial Excellence, and in 2015 he was awarded the International Folkwang Prize for his commitment to the arts.

His recent publications include Mondialité, Conversations in Mexico,Ways of Curating, The Age of Earthquakes with Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar, and Lives of The Artists, Lives of The Architects.

Yasmil Raymond

Yasmil Raymond joined The Museum of Modern Art as Associate Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture in July 2015. At the Museum, she has organized or co-organized projects including The Unfinished Conversation: New Work from the Collection (2017) and From the Collection: 1960–1969 (2016). Previously, Ms. Raymond served as a curator at the of Dia Art Foundation, where she organized exhibitions and projects with artists Allora & Calzadilla (2015), Carl Andre (2014), Thomas Hirschhorn (2013), Jean-Luc Moulène (2012), Yvonne Rainer (2011), Ian Wilson (2015-2011), Robert Whitman (2011), Koo Jeong A (2010), Franz Erhard Walther (2010), and Trisha Brown (2009). Before Dia Art Foundation, she was an associate curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for five years. At the Walker, Ms. Raymond co-curated several seminal exhibitions including, with Philippe Vergne, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, which won the 2008 award for the “Best Monographic Museum Show Nationally” from the International Association of Art Critics. She also curated solo exhibitions with Tomas Saraceno and Tino Sehgal, and co-curated with Doryun Chong the group exhibition Brave New Worlds. Ms. Raymond was part of the Education Department at MCA Chicago before Walker. She received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MA from Bard College, Center for Curatorial Studies.

Ralph Rugoff

Ralph Rugoff is the Curator and Artistic Director of the 2019 Venice Biennale of Art, May You Live in Interesting Times.  In 2015 he served as Guest Curator of the XIII Biennale de Lyon in 2015 titled La vie moderne. He has been the Director of the Hayward Gallery of London since 2006, where he has curated numerous group shows including The Painting of Modern Life (2007), Psycho Buildings (2008), and The Infinite Mix (2016); he also has curated major retrospectives and solo exhibitions by Ed Ruscha, Jeremy Deller, Carsten Holler, Tracey Emin and George Condo.  Before coming to London he was Director (2000-06) of CCA Wattis Institute, at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  Between 1985 and 2002 he wrote art and cultural criticism for numerous periodicals, publishing widely in art magazines as well as newspapers, including Artforum, Artpresse, FlashArt, Frieze, Parkett, Grand Street, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Weekly and published a collection of essays, Circus Americanus (1995), in which he explored cultural phenomena of the American West. During the same period he began working as an independent curator, organizing exhibitions such as Just Pathetic (1990) and Scene of the Crime (1997).

Nancy Spector

Nancy Spector is Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. A preeminent authority on contemporary visual culture, she has organized exhibitions and written extensively on conceptual photography, Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle, and on artists such as Joseph Beuys, Tino Sehgal, and Richard Prince. Her exhibitions and publications include Moving Pictures (2003), Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated) (2004), and theanyspacewhatever (2008). Spector was Adjunct Curator of the 1997 Venice Biennale and co-organizer of the first Berlin Biennial in 1998. In 2007 she was the U.S. Commissioner for the Venice Biennale, where she presented an exhibition of work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Under the auspices of the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, she has initiated special commissions by Andreas Slominski, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Lawrence Weiner. Spector is a recipient of the Peter Norton Family Foundation Curators Award.

Christine Tohme

Christine Tohme is a Beirut-based cultural organizer, art activist and curator. In 1994, she founded Ashkal Alwan, the Lebanese Association for the Plastic Arts, a non-profit organization that initiates and supports contemporary artistic practice. Through her work, she provides a platform for free thought and critical discourse in Lebanon, promotes and develops critical reflection and cultural theory, and fosters regional and international cultural exchange. In 2001, Tohme initiated Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices. In 2006, she received the Prince Claus Award Award, in recognition of her achievements in stimulating local multi-disciplinary art production and art criticism.

Nato Thompson

Nato Thompson joined Creative Time in January 2007. Since then, Thompson, who is Chief Curator, has organized such major Creative Time projects as The Creative Time Summit (2009–2013), Kara Walker’s A Subtlety… (2014), Suzanne Lacy’s Between the Door and the Street (2013), Nick Cave’s HEARD•NY (2013), Trevor Paglen’s The Last Pictures (2012), Living as Form (2011), Paul Ramirez Jonas’s Key to the City (2010), Jeremy Deller’s It is What it is (2009, with New Museum curators Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie), Democracy in America: The National Campaign (2008), and Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007), among others. Previously, he worked as Curator at MASS MoCA, where he completed numerous large-scale exhibitions, including The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere (2004), with a catalogue distributed by MIT Press. His writings have appeared in numerous publications, BookForum, Frieze, Art Forum, Parkett, Cabinet, and The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest among them. In 2005, he received the Art Journal Award for distinguished writing. For Independent Curators International (ICI), Thompson curated the exhibition Experimental Geography, with a book available from Melville House Publishing. His book Seeing Power: Socially Engaged Art in the Age of Cultural Production is forthcoming from Melville House in 2013.

Anton Vidokle

Anton Vidokle is an artist who was born in Moscow and raised in the Lower East Side, NYC. With Julieta Aranda, he organized e-flux video rental, which traveled to numerous institutions across Europe and the United States. As Founding Director of e-flux, he has produced projects such as “Next Documenta Should Be Curated By An Artist,” “Do it,” “Utopia Station” poster project, and organized An Image Bank for Everyday Revolutionary Life and Martha Rosler Library. Vidokle initiated research into education as site for artistic practice as co-curator for Manifesta 6, which was canceled. In response to the cancellation, Vidokle set up an independent project in Berlin called Unitednationsplaza—a twelve-month project involving more than a hundred artists, writers, philosophers, and diverse audiences. From 2008-09, the New Museum in New York commissioned Vidokle to organize Night School, a critically acclaimed year-long program of monthly seminars and workshops that used the museum as a site to shape a critically engaged public through art discourse.

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